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Thu, Mar 12, 2009

Avidyne, Cessna Named In Suit Tied To February 2008 Lancair Accident

Claims Plane's PFD Was "Defective And Dangerous"

The family of a pilot killed in a February 2008 landing accident has sued avionics manufacturer Avidyne, claiming the accident plane's primary flight display was "defective and dangerous"... despite a National Transportation Safety Board ruling that pilot error was to blame.

The Oregonian reports the $10.5 million wrongful death and negligence suit was filed on behalf of the widow and three children of Dr. Richard Otoski. The suit claims problems with the Lancair Columbia 400's autopilot and attitude/heading reference system (AHRS) were causal to the aircraft crashing while Otoski attempted to make an ILS approach in hard IFR conditions to Portland International Airport (PDX) on February 16, 2008.

As ANN reported, the pilot and sole occupant was killed when the plane crashed alongside Runway 10-Right at PDX. The aircraft was making its second approach to land in heavy fog when it deviated from the approach path -- in an apparent attempt to go missed -- and clipped a tree. The observed runway visual range (RVR) was below IFR minimums at the time of the accident.

"The airplane's turn to the southeast was consistent with the missed approach course of 160 degrees; however, a climb to 900 feet is required prior to commencing the right turn, as outlined on approach plate's missed approach instructions," reads the NTSB Probable Cause report. "It appears the pilot likely misinterpreted the missed approach instructions by making the right hand turn prior to initiating a climb to 900 feet, which resulted in the subsequent impact with the tree.

"...The airplane continued on the collision course before impacting the ground in a left wing low, nose down attitude, about 845 feet from the initial impact point with the tree," continues the report. "It then traveled through an airport perimeter fence before coming to rest on a perimeter road in an upright position, about 15 feet from the ground impact point."

Otoski was killed on impact. The Probable Cause report notes "[n]o preimpact anomalies were found during an examination of the airframe and engine. The airplane's avionics components revealed that they were too thermally and impact-damaged to provide any data." The Board's determination was the accident was due to "the pilot's failure to follow the missed approach procedure. Contributing to the accident were the fog and below landing minimums visibility conditions."

Also named in the lawsuit is the former Lancair Certified Aircraft -- later Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Company -- which is now owned by Cessna.

FMI: Read The Full Probable Cause Report

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